Divorce or separation may necessitate changing your living arrangements due to a shift in financial circumstances or a need for a fresh start. If you are also the primary carer for the children of your relationship, decisions about relocation need to be thought through carefully. Moving away can have an affect upon your children as it may mean a change of school, friendship groups, extracurricular activities and potentially make it more difficult for them to live with or spend time with their other parent or important family members. Moving could also be a good decision for children: for example, it could mean living closer to supportive family, increase schooling options or it may assist the primary carer to access greater employment prospects.
Relocation is an issue that is often litigated in the Family Law Courts by parents.
So how far can I move?
There is no set distance about how far a parent may move with the children. The Court considers what is in the “best interests of the children”. This includes a consideration of the practical realities of the changes a move will bring. The Court may consider what the present parenting arrangements are and whether the move will make it significantly more difficult for the children to live with or spend time with the other parent. Some other considerations include:
- How far the parent is proposing to move and the proposed living arrangements;
- How permanent the move will be;
- The reasons that the parent wishes to moves move;
- Whether the parent will promote the children spending regular time with the other parent and the practical effects of facilitating this;
- The practical and financial issues relating to the move;
- The impact of relocating on the children, such as school, extracurricular activities, friends and extended family, and
- Other ways that the children can maintain a relationship with the other parent.
What should I do if I want to move?
In the first instance, you should try to obtain the agreement of the other parent to your proposed move in writing. If the other parent does not agree, we strongly recommend that you obtain legal advice prior to taking any steps to relocate the children.
What should I do if the other parent has moved away with the children or is proposing to move without my consent?
If the other parent is moving with the children and you have not consented, you may be able to make an Application in the Family Courts for an Injunction, or a Recovery Order if the Court has previously made Parenting Orders about the children. We recommend that you seek legal advice to discuss your legal options.